Book Notes: Free by Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson is the editor in chief of Wired magazine. He is also the author or The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, one of the most talked about books in the publishing industry. He is also the author of the new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price. In a moment, I will tell you how to get a copy FREE—which seems especially appropriate for this book!

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If you have been reading my blog for more than a few weeks, you know I like to give away free books. So far, I have given away hundreds of copies of eleven different titles. In fact, this is now a regular Monday feature on my blog. I am committed to reviewing a new book each week and giving away as many copies as the publisher will provide.

I’d like to claim that I do this because I am just an altruistic person. And while I do believe in the power of generosity, I am also an unabashed capitalist. I provide free books because I am hoping to get a financial return on my investment.

All this talk about free is interesting, but it is only sustainable if you can monetize it in some way. This is why Anderson’s book is so valuable: it provides the rationale for why—and when—free makes sense as a business strategy.

He discusses the history of free (it’s really not a new idea), the psychology behind it, and provides scores of examples of how free works in the real world. He devotes a lot of space to the digital and online world, where the cost of reproducing bits and providing bandwidth are trending toward zero. He also provides numerous examples of companies who have used free successfully.

He points out, however that

Free is not a magic bullet. Giving away what you do will not make you rich by itself. You have to think creatively about how to convert the reputation and attention you can get from Free into cash.”

I doubt that you will agree with all of Anderson’s conclusions. I didn’t. I am still processing some of them. Frankly, the book has been critiqued on a number of levels, perhaps most notably by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker.

However, Free has really stimulated my thinking and provided a plethora of marketing ideas. I think we live in a time when we must experiment in order to find the future. Anderson’s book provides much fodder for your own experiments. If you are an author, an agent, or a publisher, you simply must read this book.

Thanks to the good people at Hyperion Books, I have 100 copies of Free to give away. To get a chance at snagging one, you must take the following three actions:

  1. Leave a comment below. Tell me why you want this book. Be creative. I really do read these comments and base my decisions on them.
  2. Fill out the special form. I have set up a separate contact form to make it convenient for you to provide your mailing address. Please do not put your shipping address in your comment. This will automatically disqualify you.
  3. Twitter a link to this post. You can do so automatically by clicking here. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook. Yes, I know if more people read this, it will hurt your chances of getting a copy yourself. But the only incentive the publisher has to provide these books to giveaway is the free publicity that you and I collectively provide.

On Thursday, October 1, I will select 100 people, based solely on my arbitrary and subjective evaluation of their comments. If you are one of those selected, Lindsey Nobles on my team will notify you via email. If you don’t hear from her, you can assume you didn’t make the cut.

Question: Why do you want a copy of this book?

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